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Government's initial proposals for scrutiny of Brexit-related delegated legislation inadequate

6 November 2017

The Procedure Committee calls for a new and effective "sifting committee" to be set up to determine which proposed pieces of delegated legislation need detailed scrutiny by MPs as EU law is transferred into UK law.

Vital that a committee is set up to examine each statutory instrument

The European Union (Withdrawal) Bill will give powers to ministers to make delegated legislation once the bill becomes law, through the use of statutory instruments.

The committee's inquiry has highlighted the cross-party concerns about the Government's decision to propose no change to the present arrangements for scrutiny of delegated legislation in the Commons, and to leave the choice of which instruments are scrutinised and debated in the hands of Ministers.

Therefore the report says it is vital that a committee—based on the model of the European Scrutiny Committee—is set up to examine each statutory instrument laid before the House of Commons and to decide which ones warrant further scrutiny by MPs.

Power to recommend instruments be revoked, re-made, withdrawn, rewritten

These instruments would then be sent to a general committee of MPs for further debate or—in exceptional cases—would be debated by MPs in the main Chamber of the Commons.

The new committee would also have the power to recommend that defective or inadequate statutory instruments be revoked and re-made or, if drafts, be withdrawn and rewritten.

The instruments could not come into force unless and until the committee was satisfied with them or they had been debated fully in the House.

MPs are also urging the Government to make sure that a timetable for the presentation of delegated legislation to the House for scrutiny is published and regularly updated.

Chair's comments

Chair of the Procedure Committee, Charles Walker OBE MP said:

"The process of enacting over four decades' worth of European legislation into UK domestic law, in little more than 12 months, is one of the greatest legislative challenge Parliament has faced.

The Government's current proposals for Parliamentary scrutiny do not go far enough. The task faced by the House is unique and unprecedented, and therefore it needs a scrutiny system that is up to the challenge.

I am hopeful that our report will receive a swift and positive response from  Government. If necessary, I am prepared to table amendments to the Bill in Committee to make sure this system can work effectively."

Further information

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